Friday, December 09, 2011

Pigeon English by Stephen Kelman

This was such a wonderful surprise of a book and will make my top ten for 2011.  

Harrison Opoku is a most memorable character just on the edge of puberty and his naivete is captured perfectly and without affectation.  He struggles with the murder of an older classmate from his London neighborhood (the novel's centerpiece) and seeks to find the killer in a young-boy-who-watches-too-much-CSI manner.  

Harri is a young man with a foot in two worlds: that of an immigrant in a new land, a wide-eyed schoolboy turning into a teenager (his budding romance is one of the best accounts I've read in ages), and from childhood to manhood.  

Initially, the pigeon motif confused me but once I caught on, it added a layer to the story and to Harri's character that I found quite beautiful.  Harri's use of slang terms (his own pigeon English) was also a little tough to follow at first but it was a realistic depiction of a boy of that age.  It was a pleasure to read and has stayed with me since.

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